Power line on hiatus while legal challenge sorted out

An Alberta Utilities Commission hearing into an electricity transmission mega project remains on hold in Red Deer while a legal challenge is sorted out.

An Alberta Utilities Commission hearing into an electricity transmission mega project remains on hold in Red Deer while a legal challenge is sorted out.

Lawyers for landowners objecting to the north-south Western Alberta Transmission Line have urged the commission panel to adjourn the hearing until a Court of Appeal has ruled on issues that arose out of the controversial Heartland transmission line hearings in Edmonton last year.

Gavin Fitch, a lawyer representing the 566 Corridor Group, said on Tuesday that the fact leave for appeal was granted by a justice “clearly has an impact” on the western transmission line, which would run about 350 km from the Genesee generators southwest of Edmonton to Langdon near Calgary.

Fitch cautioned against going ahead with the Red Deer hearing while there are key legal issues outstanding related to how public interest should be taken into account on major power line projects. There is a risk the hearing process would have to start over again if the Court of Appeal rules the public interest wasn’t adequately addressed, he said.

Key players in the power line project, including the Alberta Electric System Operator, which oversees the province’s power grid; and AltaLink, which would build the line, oppose adjournment.

Panel chairman Willie Grieve did not say when the panel would make a decision on the adjournment request but suggested the more than 30 mostly out-of-town lawyers gathered for the hearing need not return today.

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